Campus / Featured / News / March 11, 2014

Jackson Katz: ‘Feminism is one of the best things that has ever happened to men’

Dr. Jackson Katz speaks to an overflowing audience about men's role in feminism during his lecture "More Than a Few Good Men: A Lecture on American Manhood and Violence Against Women" Monday, March 10 in Harbach Theatre. (Casey Mendoza/TKS)

Dr. Jackson Katz speaks to an overflowing audience about men’s role in feminism during his lecture “More Than a Few Good Men: A Lecture on American Manhood and Violence Against Women” Monday, March 10 in Harbach Theatre. (Casey Mendoza/TKS)

The number of students who turned out to see noted writer, filmmaker and gender violence educator Jackson Katz speak to campus was so large, that those in attendance filled not only Harbarch Theatre, where the event was taking place, but also Kresge Recital Hall, which had the lecture wired in on closed-circuit television.

The hundreds there heard Katz deliver a speech entitled “More than a Few Good Men“, which calls upon men to recognize that traditional “women’s issues” such as sexual assault and domestic violence are men’s issues as well. He challenged men to break down social norms that tolerate such behavior.

He opened by hailing progress made not only in the field of gender equality, but also those of race and sexual orientation. But he warned listeners that complacency is not an option. “The idea that we’ve passed these hurdles … is nonsense and ignorance on parade. We have a long way to go.”

Men, he argued, have allowed themselves to believe that as long as they are not active perpetrators of inappropriate behaviors, they are entitled to ignore issues such as gender violence. Even the very way the issues are worded (“violence against women” instead of “violence men commit against women”), according to Katz, encourages male passivity.

“Saying ‘I’m not a rapist’ is not particularly impressive,” Katz said.

This is reinforced by male culture that belittles men who take a stand on gender equality, Katz said. He specifically pointed to the demonization that the word “feminist” has suffered from (“one of the great propaganda successes in Western cultural history”) as a symptom of this, a remark met with vocal approval from those gathered in Harbach.

His alternative is the so-called Bystander Approach, which aims to place social costs on those who perpetrate gender inequality or violence, especially within all-male settings. This approach is noted for avoiding more traditional methods of preventing sexual assault, which either treat all males as potential perpetrators or place the burden on females to avoid risky situations.

An interesting feature of his lecture was his frequent breaks for questions or comments from the audience after every major portion of his talk. Some students asked for clarification or advice on what they could do, while others discussed personal experiences.

He ended the lecture with a number of film clips, including some from his own documentary.

Tags:  bystander gender Jackson Katz masculinity MVP sexual assault title ix violence

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Matt Barry
Matt Barry is a senior majoring in international relations and double minoring in economics and German. This is his third year working for TKS, having served previously as discourse editor. He has worked for such organizations as the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Premier Tourism Marketing and the Council on American Islamic Relations-Chicago, where his work appeared in such publications as Leisure Group Travel, Ski & Ride Club Guide and The Chicago Monitor. Matt has written his political opinion column, "The Voice of Reason," weekly for three years, which finished in first place at the 2012 Illinois College Press Association conference and was also recognized at the 2013 conference.

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  • Tupper

    The essence of what he seems to be saying is that there is absolutely nothing “manly” about taking the path of least resistance–least resistance meaning being silent when confronted with sexist/homophobic/racist behavior rather than intervening.

  • Hello

    Wow…the idea that all men aren’t predators. That’s a shock. Who would have guessed, when you have the likes of Kathleen and Hadley running around campus literally screaming “MEN SUCK.” Maybe this will force them to get a goddamn grip.

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The week ahead at Knox
Monday, March 10 Author Jackson Katz will give his talk "More than a Few Good Men: A Lecture on American Manhood and Violence...